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The Jolly Mon King Classic fishing tournament is here, and the fish are biting. For 19 years now the Jolly Mon has been drawing anglers to compete for cash and prizes awarded to the teams that capture the largest king mackerel. The tournament’s humble roots started with only a handful of entries, but now the tournament has grown into one of the country’s largest, attracting more than 300 teams and awarding more than $75,000 in prize money.
This week the Jolly Mon will kick off with registration for the Jr. Jolly Mon on Thursday. The Jr. Jolly Mon is a “minor league” version of the big tournament and is intended to provide young anglers an opportunity to compete against each other without the pressures of fishing for the big prize money. Prizes are awarded to all junior anglers who weigh fish in the king mackerel, cobia and dolphin categories.
The fishing for the Jr. Jolly Mon takes place all day Friday. Meanwhile, back on land at the OIFC, registration and festivities for the Yellowfin/Yamaha Jolly Mon will commence. Registration is open all day for those who have not already preregistered. Vendors from throughout the marine industry are on hand to display products and services to participants and spectators. At 5 p.m., the Recreational Fishing Alliance fundraiser will begin with the opening of the a dunking booth: three throws for $5 will give you shots at dunking the likes of SKA director Jack Holmes, Yamaha promotions manager Tim Haney and Jolly Mon tournament director Brant McMullan. And who knows who else may guest star? All proceeds from the dunking booth will go directly to the RFA to assist in its continued battle to preserve fishing rights.
At 6 p.m., dinner is served compliments of Bryan Strickland and the Guy C. Lee of Shallotte crew. This is always a great meal and it is served at no cost to participants and guests.
At 7 p.m., I will commence the awards ceremony for the Jr. Jolly Mon and then get right into the captains’ meeting for the Yellowfin/Yamaha Jolly Mon King Classic, discussing and clarifying rules to be sure all participants are clear on what is expected and allowed. Shortly after the meeting, the evening’s main entertainment attraction will begin: pogy bobbing.
I’ve talked about in year’s past, but here is the short. A pogy is a baitfish used to catch king mackerel. Bobbing is the art of plucking something from the water using only your teeth. Now, take a half dozen live pogies, put them in a clear container and go bobbing. Dozens of kids upward of 50 years old participate for the crowd’s amusement, bragging rights and a little money to boot.
Finally after this event, it is time to go home and prepare to fish for the big king. Fishermen can compete one out of two possible days: either Saturday or Sunday. Weigh-in is daily from 2-5 p.m. at the OIFC. The awards ceremony takes place at 8 p.m. Sunday evening, when a champion will be crowned and win upward of $25,000. You are invited to participate or spectate at this year’s Jolly Mon King Classic. The tournament is family friendly and all are welcome.
Now, how about where to catch the winning fish? The king bite has been good this past week in the 50-to 65-foot depth range. Spots such as the Lighthouse Rocks, 15-mile rocks and 90/90 have been producing kings. The only problem is that many have been pretty small, fewer than 15 pounds.
However, I guided a group on Sunday in which we landed quite a few 10- to 15-pound kings before landing a nice 25-pounder, a Jolly Mon money winner for sure. You just don’t know, and the tournament is all relative. If everyone else is catching 15-pounders and you catch a 20-pounder you win, short and simple.
The pogies have been plentiful all along the Brunswick beaches, so live bait should not be a problem. I look for the winning fish to come from very close to shore, maybe the Lighthouse Rocks area or the Cape Fear ship channel. There is a lot of bait on the beach: pogies, Spanish and blues. Good luck to all who participate. I will see you this weekend at the Jolly Mon.